When Minnesotans see the I-35W bridge, many reflect on the lives lost when the bridge collapsed Aug. 1, 2007. Remarkably, just over a year later, Minnesotans also envision progress when they look at—and now drive upon—the new bridge.
Similarly, the concrete industry sees the bridge as an engineering marvel, and the world sees a bridge that symbolizes a community healed, reunited as one.
The profound impact of the opening of the I-35W bridge goes beyond the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Rather, it is the re-opening of a crucial artery that not only helps to reestablish the flow of vehicular traffic, but helps stimulate the communities and the morale of the upper Midwest.
In the year that has passed since that fateful day, speculation as to why the bridge collapsed was rampant. Overshadowed by the outpouring of reasons why the bridge collapsed and the sudden attention to the failures of our nation's infrastructure were the plans to rapidly rebuild the bridge. Some of the greatest minds in bridge design, engineering, and construction combined forces, resulting in a bridge design that ultimately will influence the way new bridges will be constructed around the globe. At the heart of the I-35W bridge design is concrete, one of the critical elements in the bridge's fast-paced construction schedule.
It is the rare occasion that I use this forum to promote the articles we publish in an issue of Concrete Construction. However, the in-depth feature article of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis (see Bridge to the Future on page 37) written by senior editor Joe Nasvik is certain to garner attention from our industry, as well as a nation that was shocked to hear the news in August 2007.
Numerous trips, unlimited access to the project, and a bevy of editorial contacts were critical to Joe's profile. In-depth interviews with the bridge designers, engineers, construction workers, and countless others, were essential to the revealing nature of this article, which goes beyond examining the role of concrete in the bridge's design to also explore the many construction elements as well as the community efforts involving the entire structure.
Ultimately, the I-35W bridge will be scrutinized heavily by construction engineers from around the globe. Despite the tragic nature of the collapse, it provided the bridge community the opportunity to learn from its mistakes and design a state-of-the art bridge that will raise the standard for bridge construction. The entire industry should applaud the workers involved in the reconstruction. Without their forward-thinking and willingness to push the bridge's design above and beyond standard limitations, we would be left with another cookie-cutter bridge, progress impeded only by tragedy.
To view exclusive excerpts from the article along with a pictorial slideshow—featuring a number of unpublished photos—visit our Web site www.concreteconstruction.net.
Editor in Chief